Recalling when Ray Guy’s kicking football was tested for helium

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Long before there was “Deflategate,” there was the time the NFL’s lone Hall of Fame punter was suspected of kicking a football filled with a substance lighter than air.

When the Houston Oilers and Oakland Raiders met on November 13, 1977, Ray Guy’s hang time on kicks drew the attention of the visiting Oilers.

Per a UPI wire story, Oilers returner Billy “White Shoes” Johnson told the club’s special teams coach that “the ball was hanging up there too long.”

Said Johnson: “I have never seen anybody hang kickoffs like Guy did.”

Things would get even more interesting from there. According to news accounts, the Oilers were able to retrieve one of Guy’s footballs and took it back to Houston. The Oilers would send the ball for testing at Rice University, but no helium was found, according to the AP, which cited a Houston Post report. (It should be noted, according to the UPI, that the late Oilers coach Bum Phillips believed early on there was “probably nothing to” the helium theory.)

In the end, it was much ado about nothing. According to news reports, the NFL had no prohibition against helium-filled footballs in 1977. And this appears to be the same case today. The 2014 NFL rule book doesn’t include any guideline as to what gas must fill the football, though the weight of the ball and other details are covered (as you certainly well know after the last few days).

Ultimately, there’s some question as to whether helium would lead to better punting performance. “Mythbusters” explored the subject years back and found an air-filled football traveled a little farther. Also, a 1993 Sports Illustrated experiment comparing 10 punts of helium- and air-filled footballs at equal weights found the air-filled ones produced better hang time.

23 responses to “Recalling when Ray Guy’s kicking football was tested for helium

  1. The Raiders, and Madden himself, have even admitted to all sorts of cheating over the years — much of it very creative.

    It’s interesting for a lot of reasons, one of which is how they scream bloody murder over the Immaculate Reception — which was legit — yet snicker and cackle over their laundry list of dirty tricks.

  2. Lets just get to the bottom line…Ray Guy invented “hang time.”….. Finally got into the hall of fame after all these years because the east coast bias media hall voters kept him out, but his piers voted him in…….much deserved.

    The same media who wants to put an asterik behind Barry Bonds name……but praise the cheaters who tuck away deflated balls and other teams practice film.

  3. “east coast bias”??? The same one which prevented Madden himself from getting in? Oh, wait…

    Bonds was a known juicer, Guy’s skills were highly tuned and he was a great punter. Huge difference.

  4. Yes, he was THAT good.

    Any football fan over the age of 45 who doesn’t believe Ray Guy belongs in the Hall of Fame should have their head checked–too see if it’s filled with helium. Any fan under 45 who believes that? … Simply needs a little NFL history lesson.

  5. I’ve seen Bonds and I’ve seen Mays.

    Anyone who doesn’t like BBonds for the HOF is stooge. They all took it. Difference is that he had more skills than anyone else. The minor leagues were littered with roid heads doing anything to make it into the show.

    Best hitter i ever saw.

  6. Bring the rest of the unfairly treated Raiders into the HOF and I’ll care about the HOF again.

    Stabler
    Flores
    Plunkett
    Wiz
    Brown
    Hayes

    These are the obvious ones. The other obvious thing is the bias of the HOF voters against the Raiders

  7. Spicoli,

    God – if there was social media in the 1970’s then all the mouth breathers would want to see Al Davis, John Madden and Ken Stabler executed. The Raiders were also accused of DEFLATING balls and writing obscenities on balls (and of course the famous allegation of bugging the opposing coaches office in Alameda County Stadium).

    That’s quite a list of great players you have. Stabler, man, back then that’s the guy I want with 2 minutes left. These QB’s like Stabler and Ken Anderson get such a shafting. It was such a different game. You could knock the receiver all over the place until the ball was in the air (up until 1979 – then they made the Dave Casper rule – he was mugged all over the field and still kicked ass). To throw for 2,500 yards was a big deal. Same thing when people knock Namath or Bradshaw’s numbers. Total different game. Patriots are a the Raiders of the 70’s/early 80’s. They win and they are not warm and cuddly to the mainstream.

  8. Class D Air (Breathing Air) has a composition of 78% Nitrogen + 21% Oxygen…and.. < 1% Argon, Hydrogen, Neon, HELIUM…..WHAT? Helium!!! Yes folks…got a little in there anyway. Houston's Gas Chromatograph must've been hosed that day…LOL

    Sincerely, Uncle Rico

    #Science allows you to throw it over that mountain#
    #Tupperware sales are really up#

  9. NO WAY THE PATSIES ARE THE RAIDERS ! The Raiders had way more talent and tough guys on their teams then NE ever had. Those Raiders teams would have brutalized Brady . AL DAVIS ROBBED NE OF MIKE HAYNES SHELBY JORDAN DON HASSELBECK to name a few. IF LAMONICA STABLER AND PLUNKETT PLAYED UNDER TODAY’S RULES THEY WOULD HAVE DESTROYED EVERY PASSING RECORD EVER. LAMONICA THREW 36 TDS IN 14 GAMES AND HAD THE HIGHEST REGULAR SEASON WINNING % OF ANY STRARTING QB EVER.

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